Synthetic cells in biomedical applications

Wakana Sato, Tomasz Zajkowski, Felix Moser, Katarzyna P. Adamala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Synthetic cells are engineered vesicles that can mimic one or more salient features of life. These features include directed localization, sense-and-respond behavior, gene expression, metabolism, and high stability. In nanomedicine, many of these features are desirable capabilities of drug delivery vehicles but are difficult to engineer. In this focus article, we discuss where synthetic cells offer unique advantages over nanoparticle and living cell therapies. We review progress in the engineering of the above life-like behaviors and how they are deployed in nanomedicine. Finally, we assess key challenges synthetic cells face before being deployed as drugs and suggest ways to overcome these challenges. This article is categorized under: Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Emerging Technologies Biology-Inspired Nanomaterials > Lipid-Based Structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1761
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Institutes of Health, Grant/Award Number: 5R01MH114031‐02; National Science Foundation, Grant/Award Numbers: 1840301, 1844313; John Templeton Foundation, Grant/Award Number: 61184 Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • synthetic biology
  • synthetic cells


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